Call him the billionaire who’s determined to help the less fortunate and make a difference.
Folks in Philadelphia might know Michael Rubin as the high-profile 76ers partner or as the majority owner and chief executive officer of Kynetic, an e-commerce company that owns retailers Fanatics, Rue La La and ShopRunner. Others might also recognize him for his relationships with rap icon Meek Mill, comedian Kevin Hart, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Sixers franchise player Joel Embiid.
- Sixers partner Michael Rubin, Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro donate 5,000 masks for Philadelphia Police Department
- Sixers’ Michael Rubin blasts judge in Meek Mill case for barring travel to playoff game
- Sixers’ Michael Rubin defends Patriots owner Robert Kraft, says police fabricated sex trafficking claims
But Rubin is much more than a successful businessman with a who’s who of friends.
The 47-year-old is devoted to helping people in need.
Rubin’s latest venture is the ALL IN Challenge fundraiser he started through Fanatics in April. He was able to get some of the world’s top actors, musicians, athletes, and tycoons to donate possessions and create once-in-a-lifetime fan experiences to raise money to feed people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sixers, Flyers, Phillies, Eagles, Hart, Mill, Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Allen Iverson are among those with Philly links who are involved. So far, the ALL IN Challenge has raised more than $58.1 million to combat food insecurity as the country deals with the pandemic. There have been more than a million individual donations, including from 521 celebrities.
“I’m having as much fun, and by the way, I never worked this hard,” Rubin said. “The ALL IN Challenge might be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. ... I’ve slept four to five hours a night, max. And I’ve done this 90% of my awake hours.
“Let’s say I’ve done this 18 hours a day for two months straight.”
Rubin said he didn’t have a number in mind when asked about a targeted monetary fundraising goal.
“We just said we have to make this as big as possible,” Rubin said. “Certainly, we think we have more to go. There are other things that we are already planning to add to this number.”
Rubin has a long history of providing financial support to those in need. He started to take a more hands-on approach shortly before he and Mill launched Reform Alliance, a criminal-justice initiative, last year. The organization seeks to reform probation and parole laws in America. It was inspired by Mill’s own experience when he was sentenced to 2-to-4 years in prison in November 2017 for technically violating his probation.
In 2007, as a 19-year-old, Mill was arrested for gun and drug charges and sentenced to 11-to-23 months in jail, followed by 10 years of probation. Due to minor violations of his probation, Judge Genece Brinkley sent him back to jail in 2017.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overruled Brinkley’s decision after several prosecutors from Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office said they supported vacating Mill’s original drug conviction. He was released in April 2018 after serving five months.
“That experience was really a life-changing experience,” Rubin said. “You know, sitting in a courtroom, watching one of your friends go to prison for not committing a crime, it kind of woke the beast up in me if I’m being blunt. ... So I feel I have a responsibility to make the country a better place in whatever way I can.
"So I take that responsibility seriously.”
And he has with the ALL IN Challenge. So have the Phillies and new manager Joe Girardi, who’s been very hands-on.
The Phillies have offered a winning bidder an opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a game, meet Girardi, and get a behind-the-scenes tour of Citizens Bank Park. In addition, the winner and 25 guests will watch a Phillies game in a private suite while receiving visits from Phillies legends and the Phillie Phanatic, and see the team’s World Series trophies. The team will also send the winner home with a set of baseballs autographed by each player on the 26-man roster.
“The Phillies getting involved in it, it’s obviously our relationship with Michael, and it starts from there,” said Howard Smith, the Phillies vice president for business affairs. “But, look, we are in the middle of this thing every day of seeing the impact the virus has had on this city, and the people, city and state, we weren’t going to be left out of this thing.”
Nor was Dr. Henry Law, a die-hard Sixers fan.
The Jefferson Health anesthesiologist said he spent a total of $500 for various ALL IN auctions. He won a speaking role in Hart’s new movie. He’ll also get full A-list treatment that includes a movie-star trailer, a personal assistant, car service, a wardrobe, and a complimentary stay at a five-star hotel.
“From the very beginning, donating my money, you know when you join the sweepstakes, you never give it a second thought,” Law said of winning. “You are like, ‘All right, great, maybe I’ll win the lottery or whatever.' But you never think you will actually win.”
For him, this was a great way to give to a great cause.
That’s also why the Flyers got involved.
Former Flyer and Pro Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros said the Flyers organization is excited to support an initiative focused on fighting hunger among kids at school, frontline workers, and people in care facilities.
“What a vision,” Lindros said. “It’s not just doing something, it’s the effect of it. It’s extremely effective. The follow-through on this is fantastic. You get involved in certain charities, and sometimes there’s a lot of overhead or there’s money that doesn’t necessarily go to where you think it’s going. Unfortunately, there are some situations like that.
“This is not one of those. The money that’s being raised is going directly to help the three categories of people we spoke of earlier. It’s extremely effective.”
But Rubin is far from done.
His hope is that more billionaires would give back. He’s actually calling some of his billionaire buddies out.
“I think some billionaires [stink], I really do,” said Rubin, who is worth $2.9 billion, according to Forbes. “So many celebrities and artists and athletes, they went in and created incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences to help us raise money.
“But one of the things I’ve been amazed by is how many really rich cheap people there are, and it’s really pathetic, if I’m just being honest.”
He believes if you have any level of financial success, you have a responsibility to give back and make a real difference.